I was able to attend the Mary Wanless clinic up in Heber last week. It was extremely informative and well worth the drive! Mary is a wonderful instructor that uses key words and metaphors to explain the concepts of body mechanic riding to students. I learned just as much from her teaching style as I did from her instruction to the riders.
The concept that I like the most that I took away from the clinic is that horses need to hold a certain amount of tone in their bodies to be able to do the things we ask them to do, just like we have to hold some tone in our bodies to be able to ride correctly. I have always taught my students to release tension in their neck, shoulders, back, etc., and instead think of holding tone in key areas that help them balance well and use their aids effectively. I was happy to see that the concepts I was teaching went well along with Mary's ideas. Because the horse is a mirror of our body, if we expect our horse to use their body we have to use ours!
I loved watching the riders and the DRASTIC difference in their horses when they were in balance and using their body as opposed to how they used to ride. Mary would ask the rider to revert for a few steps and you would see the horse fall apart almost instantly. I also loved how the riders, through Mary's instruction, could get their horses through and connected without using their hands at all. In my opinion and from the riders I see frequently, the hands and rein aids are extremely over-used. It just makes so much more sense to me to use your body to ask your horse to use theirs.
For more information about Mary visit www.marywanless.net